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Kenya changing for its future

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DAILY SABAH — The election period in East Africa started in February last year with elections in Somalia, then continued with Rwanda, which have been clear from the very beginning, and ended in 2017 with an appraisal and an agonizing selection process in Kenya.

Kenya’s has been more than a serious democracy test in the multi-party political life that has been ongoing since the 1990s. Approximately 20 million voters went to the polls twice in the last four months to choose the leaders they believe will lead Kenya to sustainable economic growth and development.

The debut of Kenya’s election transpired during the pre-independence period in 1963. Then, there were only two key players, the Kenya African National Union (KANU) and the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU). In 1966, there was a little general election to neutralize then Vice President Oginga Odinga and Cabinet Minister Tom Mboya. President Jomo Kenyatta was uneasy with their hopes to succeed him, as it was against his will.

The premiere post-independence election took place in 1969. During this election, Kenya became a de-facto one-party state. The year 1974 saw the second post-independence elections. The economy of the country was at stake then. Initiation of secret ballot voting debuted. Initially, it used the Mlolongo system. The elections also saw the amendment of the law for the minimum age of 18 for voters.

The deteriorating health of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta advocated for a change to the constitution to enable the renunciation of the vice president to assume power upon the death of the president. Thus, Vice President Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi took over as president after the death of Kenyatta on Aug. 22, 1978.

The third post-independence election saw the candidacy of Moi with KANU. Other polls that transpired after independence took place in 1983, 1988, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2013 and 2017. Violence marred the 2007 election. Raila Odinga came second after commanding a higher lead and garnering 44 percent of the total vote, while President Mwai Kibaki enjoyed 47 percent. The 2013 election was the first under the new constitution of Kenya, which was declared Aug. 27, 2010, after approval by Kenyan voters in a referendum on Aug. 4, 2010.

A repeat of history was anticipated in the recently concluded elections in Kenya in the battle between the Kenyatta and Odinga families. Odinga is on record as vying in 1997, 2007, 2013 and 2017, but has always failed to clinch the position. Kenyatta, on the other hand, made his first attempt at the presidency in 2002, but came second. He won in 2013 as well as in 2017. The replica was visible in the 2013 election in which Kenyatta’s son won. General elections held on Aug. 8 were the second under the new constitution championed by Raila Odinga. The electoral and boundary commission declared Uhuru Kenyatta the winner with 54 percent. Odinga came second with 44.94 percent.

National Super Alliance (NASA) flag bearer Odinga filed a petition with the Supreme Court on Aug. 18, 2017, seeking nullification of the presidential election. Addressing a press conference, Odinga said that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) system was hacked and urged Kenyans to reject the results.
The IEBC responded to his claim by saying that the portal had “fake” results after validating forms 34A and 34B. Miscommunication was evident between Chairman Chebukati and Commission CEO Ezra Chiloba. The chair confirmed to the public that there were attempts to hack the electoral system, while the CEO was categorical that there were no attempts, something that tainted the validity of the election.

Subsequently, the Supreme Court on Sept. 1, 2017, annulled the presidential elections, deeming them to have illegalities and irregularities, yet finding no one guilty. The Supreme Court ordered new elections within 60 days. The IEBC announced the new date for the repeat poll on Oct. 17. The opposition’s objection prompted the IEBC to change it to Oct. 26, 2017. The election nullification made Kenya feature in the world’s limelight. Kenya became the fourth country in the world and the first in Africa to annul a presidential election, joining the likes of the Maldives, Austria and Ukraine.

Odinga’s announcement on Oct. 10, 2017, left many in a state of limbo. He withdrew from the repeat poll, citing the IEBC’s failure to conform to their minimum.

The coalition advocated for the resignation of some officers on the electoral commission, including CEO Chiloba. NASA also claimed that amendment of electoral laws by Jubilee in its favor concerning the repeat elections was tantamount to a replay of the Aug. 8, 2017, election. Thus, NASA declared demonstrations across the country, beginning Oct. 11, 2017.

NASA has since advised its supporters to shun using products from individual companies, including Brookside Dairies and their subsidiaries, BIDCO Africa and Safaricom Ltd. for a non-specified time. The objective of the boycott is to break the backbone of the economy, depriving taxes to the national government to weaken the government’s operations.

This election actually showed and offered an opportunity to understand the chronic problems of land and income distribution in Kenya over half a century, institutionalized corruption, inequality and a socioeconomic system that creates violence. However, this opportunity was often plagiarized by narrow-choice analyses, with the tribal intentions of an orientalist and Western-centered viewpoint, and an African country reduced to ethnic tensions.

The election aftermath in Kenya has it stuck in a rut. The visibility of this is that a certain percentage of citizens wanted to settle at the status quo. The orchestration of cynicism is currently underway where bad things are embraced or else seen as usual. The evidence is obtainable from statements such as that there is nothing doable about election reforms since it’s something that has been happening for years. On the other side, others are calling for acceptance and moving forward. The last category consists of those who criticize and say to those advocating election reforms that they are not the first to think that they will change the system.

The keynote for Kenyans at this critical point is to note that small missteps are the recipe for failed states. It is never too late for Kenya to avoid this menace, but with the prevalence of truth, little things need to be changed before big ones follow suit. Generally, it is illogical that Kenyans complain about a system they have benefitted from, and a case study is the recently concluded October elections. It is now time to frown on rude behavior and advocate for ethical practices.

It is time for Kenya to clean up the mess in its systems and institutions and aspire to change, instead of adopting the self-defeating notion of accepting and moving on. Indeed, positive change is inevitable, and so should it be in action.

KENYA

Miraa exporters to Mogadishu boycott trade over high prices

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Miraa exporters serving the Mogadishu market have started a boycott on the trade citing high farm gate prices.

Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) Chairman Kimathi Munjuri said the traders resolved to boycott buying the twigs to force farmers to lower the prices.

According to Mr Munjuri, a 100kg sack of miraa is now selling at Sh160,000, up from at least Sh20,000 during the rainy season.

This means a 1kg bundle (bunda) of the medium quality miraa is selling at Sh1,600.

The high prices are due to low supply caused by the dry spell that started early December.

“Only traders serving other parts of Somalia shipped their commodity on Monday night.

Traders who export to Mogadishu feel that it is not sustainable to buy 100kgs at Sh160,000 because buyers cannot afford it.

TRADERS MEET

He said the traders met in Eastleigh on Sunday and resolved that they would not buy miraa from farmers.

“This means about 30 tonnes of miraa has not been delivered to Mogadishu,” Mr Munjuri said.

Mr Joseph Muturia, a member of the Miraa report implementation committee, said the premium quality miraa known as ‘Mbaine’ is selling at Sh6,000 a kilo while ‘kisa’ is retailing at Sh4,000.

“I currently sell miraa locally because residents understand the quality of this type of miraa,” Mr Muturia said.

Mr Josiah Mugo, a miraa consumer, said he could no longer afford to chew daily after prices spiked from mid-December.

“A small bundle (surba) of the best quality khat is now retailing at more than Sh400 from Sh150 last month. I am considering shifting to muguka but its quality is not good. I am now chewing occasionally so as not to stretch my budget,” Mr Mugo said.

BOYCOTT FUTILE

However, Nyamita termed the move by the traders as futile saying the miraa prices are determined by market forces.

“Miraa trading is highly dependent on supply and demand. At no time do farmers or suppliers meet to fix the price. The exporters have tried this before in vain. Let those who have a market for miraa, at its prevailing prices, buy and sell without undue subjection to mob attempts to fix prices,” Mr Munjuri said.

He noted that farmers are also subjected to poor prices when there is a miraa glut during the rains.

“During the rains, miraa is in plenty and traders pick it for a dime. An attempt by farmers to boycott selling at poor prices have also failed,” the Nyamita chairman said.

ADDRESS CHALLENGES

Nyamita now wants the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) to move in and address challenges facing the sector so as to stabilise prices.

Earlier, the lobby had faulted AFA for not operationalising an office in Maua, Meru County that was opened in November 2017.

“The fluctuations in supply [is one] of the urgent and critical issues we have been hoping the national government would address. Unfortunately AFA is yet to start operations despite opening their office in Maua,” he added.

Farmers have called on the county and national governments to allocate more funds towards irrigation projects to ensure consistent production of miraa.

In April 2017, traders boycotted selling miraa in Somalia for four days over a tax dispute with Mogadishu authorities.

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Time ripe for Kenyan business people to venture into Somalia

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As the economy recovers, it will be wise for Kenyans companies to set eyes on Somalia.

DAILY NATION — Though associated with insecurity for years, recent developments there are making it an attractive investment option.

In fact, in the past year, Somalia was the only neighbouring trade partner that registered strong growth in export volumes with Kenya.

With exports worth over Sh10 billion, it is the third-largest destination for Kenyan goods.

GENDER

Among factors that make business sense to set up shop in Somalia is strong political leadership, headed by Federal President Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” Mohamed, who came into office in a peaceful transfer of power.

It’s also noteworthy that almost a quarter of the elected Members of Parliament are women — proof of gender parity, hence fairness.

The Mogadishu government is making strides towards sustainable stability. Besides joining anti-piracy efforts and holding security conferences, it now controls its airspace, which was under the United Nations since 1992.

The African Union is preparing to leave the country — a testament of an improved security situation.

There is not much competition in Somalia, more so due to decades of violence, and businesses would get much more returns there compared to other, more mature markets.

CARGO PLANES

There are business distribution lines throughout the country established via the miraa trade. Cargo planes ply the Kenya-Somalia route daily, so logistics should not be an issue.

Again, Kenyan traders enjoy goodwill as our country has hosted Somali refugees for more than two decades.

Since Kenya has a well-developed Islamic financial system, that would serve anyone wanting to do business in Somalia very well.

The communities along the common border have traded for centuries. Indeed, livestock trade has thrived for ages there.

A business can also set base in Garissa and other border counties and use that as a launching pad to Somalia. The presence of airports, government investments such as roads and the counties’ efforts to promote businesses in their localities would be a boon for businesses eyeing Somalia.

Further, the border posts, such as Liboi, ensure safe and efficient travel in and out of Somalia.

MOGADISHU

Though scarred by war, Somalia has many universities, whose graduates, together with Somalis returning from the diaspora, would provide skilled labour.

Public services are devolved and one doesn’t need to go to Mogadishu for every business need.

The UN and other international organisations and multinationals have been in Somali for a long time and a business would not be venturing into Somalia in isolation.

Rather, it would have abundance of knowledge and information to tap into. Besides, one can partner with locals in joint ventures.

As war ends ands and normalcy returns in Somalia, our youth can invest or seek jobs in Somalia.

That would also boost the fight against terror, both there and in Kenya.
Kariuki Gathuitu, Nairobi.

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Somali militants “lecture” frightened Kenyan villagers before escaping

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LAMU, Kenya, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) — About 100 Somali Al-Shabaab militants on Sunday stormed a village in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region where they “lectured” frightened villagers.

The militants flushed out Ishakani villagers from their houses and preached to them radical teachings at the border village between Kenya and Somalia.

According to witnesses living in Ishakani, the militants joined other Muslim faithful for prayers in the mosque in which they lectured them before escaping into Somalia.

Lamu County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo confirmed the incident on Sunday evening, saying that they got information and sent officers to pursue the militants.
Kitiyo confirmed that a group of between 60 to 100 suspected Al-Shabaab militants invaded Ishakani village on Sunday.

“However, within 30 minutes, we had already sent out a special team of KDF (Kenya Defence Forces) to pursue the terrorists. Our officers are pursuing the criminals who suspected that our security team must be following them,” Kitiyo said.

The government official reiterated that the national government is aware of the militants’ threats and are working towards weeding out the Al-Shabaab group from Boni forest which he said continues to be their base of operations.

He further said that KDF from the local camp together with the special squad are hunting down the militants in Boni forest.

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